He once held a world record in the leg press and pumped iron into his late 80s.
At a time when science and police work didn’t really mesh, he wrote the book on scientific crime scene investigation for Sandusky police.
At once he was “gregarious,” “tough,” “fearless,” “well-respected,” “straight-forward,” “old school.”
He was not, however, “afraid to raise hell.”
Loved by his officers and loathed by criminals, he was Chief Henry “Hank” Jacoby — a local legend. Jacoby died Thursday at the age of 97 after a hard-fought bout with Alzheimer’s disease.
“He was the type of chief that if you had to go in and arrest someone he’d go in first,” retired Port Clinton police Chief Tom Blohm said. “He didn’t stand behind — he was right there with you.”
“I was always proud to call him my chief.”
In fact some say Jacoby didn’t know what fear meant.
“I don’t think Hank had a scared bone in his body,” an acquaintance who identified himself as “Ray” said. “He was the real deal.”
And it was a good thing, too. In the 1940s, when Jacoby first started walking his beat as a Sandusky police officer, the streets were littered with mobsters and crooks who wouldn’t think twice about going after a police officer.
Hank didn’t mind.
“His career began at a time when policemen were tough guys hired to do a tough job with no training and nothing but their common sense and instincts to guide them,” wrote former Sandusky police chief Gerald Lechner, now deceased, in a preface to Jacoby’s book “Sandusky’s Finest.”
“(Jacoby) had the tenacity of a pit bull dog and a mind like a steel trap.”
After 23 years of busting heads in Sandusky, he retired as the Sandusky police chief. Then in 1966 he took the job of Port Clinton police chief. By then he had a reputation.
“They brought him in to clean up the department and the city and that’s just what he did,” Port Clinton police Det. Robert Case said. “He was tough but always fair.”
But cleaning up the police department and streets didn’t come without a price.
“I remember he slept with a shotgun on the floor and his pistol on the night stand,” Jacoby’s son Alan Jacoby said. “That was at a time when people’s houses were getting firebombed.”
After over 40 years of police work Hank retired in 1985. But he still made the rounds.
“I’d see him lifting at the department weight room,” Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick said. “He’d always make sure you were squared away.”
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth looked to him like a guru.
“To a young deputy like I was then, you could tell he was a guy you wanted to listen to,” Sigsworth said. “The guy was a legend.”
For all his tempered-steel toughness Blohm said Jacoby was first and foremost, a man of principles.
“He didn’t play politics and only did what was best for the department and for the city,” Blohm said. “He set an example and he set it quite high.”
In the beginning of his book Jacoby quotes U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again … who knows the great enthusiasms, great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at least fails while doing greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
And everybody agrees, Hank made his home in the arena.